Category Archives: connectivity

Sending an email in Uganda

One can only understand the meaning of the connectivity divide through experiencing it. Nothing as annoying as just simply waiting for something in order to find out that you have been waiting for nothing. But last week I was lucky. I tried to send an email in a hot and steamy Internet cafe in Kampala. This was a new experience for me. After first having tried my hotmail-account, which simply didn’t work, I gave my student-mail a shot. Minutes went by, but again without success. I got frustrated. The heat didn’t help. As a last resort I tried gmail.. and after another 10 minutes of trying and crying my email finally got sent. That was my first and last email that day. Continue reading

Inside an Ugandan Internet cafe

John, the Internet cafe manager, explains me that the VSAT connection is not stable; one moment it is quick, the other moment it is very slow. They usually have a cache system which regulates certain traffic by blocking downloads that are bigger than for example 50 mb. The cache box had a problem, so the speed depends now on the amount of people and their activities. Sometimes he goes around the café to see who is doing large downloads and to tell them that it is not allowed.
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He explains that their speed is also related to Europe. When Europe wakes up and start going online they immediately experience this in a decrease of speed. Continue reading

University online

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Colin, our contact person on the Makerere University of ICT, shows us enthusiastically around in the massive building. There are six floors, each filled with hundreds of modern pc’s. Most of them are not yet in use, because they are just installed, he explains. In two months all hardware will be ready to serve the new educational programs. There is an intranet connection under construction, so that multiple classes can learn from only one teacher. Continue reading

A glimpse on Internet usage in Kampala

My first intention was to shine a light on the dark informal sphere of illegal economic activities conducted on the Internet. Scams, fraud, fake marriages and so on. My first encounter with a Ugandan blog taught me that the scams were typical Nigerian, not African. People in Uganda were warning each other for this foreign Nigerian fake mails. There went my first prejudice. Continue reading

Digital Divide: Citizen journalism in Africa

‘Bring the world to Africa and bring Africa to the world.’ (Gisel Hiscock, speaking at Surprising Africa)

Gisel Hiscock, one of speakers at the Surprising Africa conference, held a lecture about Google’s interest in giving information-access to the one billion Africans. The Africans need a way to share their information with the rest of the world: they need a voice. According to Hiscock the focus should be on developing technologies that answer local needs, empowering communities and in this way achieving the most. She finds Africa interesting because of it’s innovative character. Another speaker, Ethan Zuckerman, shares this interest: ‘A hammer isn’t a hammer in Africa. In the West a hammer is solely a tool to hit nails, in Africa they use it to do a lot more.’ Surely this is a necessity due to poverty, but nonetheless a capacity that has great potential in using new technologies. His presentation was far more interesting than the Google-presentation Hiscock came up with, since the latter seemed to be more interested in putting Google on a shiny pedestal instead of discussing relevant issues. Continue reading